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OPENS OCT. 29

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The European Union has recently stretched eastward—which has worked out pretty well cinematically, to judge by the intriguing films in the first week of this year’s European Union Showcase. Cheese and Jam (Oct. 31 and Nov. 3) is a Slovenian smash about a newly girlfriendless guy offered two unappealing job options; a 12-year-old girl observes the unraveling marriage of a frustrated composer and a bored pianist in the Czech Republic’s Faithless Games (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1); and Poland’s Symmetry (Oct. 30 and Nov. 3) is a visually distinctive film set in a prison, where a mild-mannered innocent man decides to ally himself with the tough guys who really belong there. This week, the most impressive offering from an established director is Ermanno Olmi’s Singing Behind the Screen (Oct. 29 and Oct. 30), which turns from neorealism to ravishing artifice in a part-cinematic, part-theatrical account of Chinese buccaneers. More conventional, yet still diverting, are Pupi Avati’s Christmas Rematch (Oct. 31, Kennedy Center; Nov. 5 and 6, AFI Silver), an account of a poker player’s long-delayed grudge match; and The Alzheimer Case (pictured; Oct. 29 and 30, Kennedy Center), a Memento-influenced Belgian thriller involving a forgetful hitman and a driven police inspector who both abhor sexual abuse of children. Of the previewable films, the inessential one is In Orange (Oct. 30 and 31, Kennedy Center), a sentimental kiddie sports flick that could be remade in Hollywood, if only it weren’t so much like a Dutch remake of a Hollywood film to begin with. The series opens Friday, Oct. 29, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 7 (see Showtimes for a complete schedule). Unless otherwise specified, screenings are at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. Additional screenings are at the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $8.50. (202) 785-4600. (Mark Jenkins)